Lunch With President Leaves Bad Taste in Student’s Mouth

By The Cooperative Council for a Non Wack Social Scene 

This past Monday I had the pleasure filled opportunity of participating in a lunch date with our distinguished president Steve “the bulldog? Lawry. This opportunity was one I did not take for granted, as up until yesterday Steve was the sort of legendary character I only found myself within spitting distance of in my dreams. I do not think it would be a stretch to describe him as elusive. I mean I never see him at community meetings, or meals, he never knocks on my door, never stops by just to say hello, not that I’m hurt or anything.

The mood of the meal was a little bit tense as first year students frothed at the bit to ask Steve questions about issues concerning their everyday realities, such as the disappearance of friends, any upcoming curricular changes, or any sort of hint as to the college’s future. I had the fortunate opportunity of getting to actually eat food two people away from Steve. Yes community, Steve Lawry eats. In fact it can be noted he likes beans, mixed with peas if anyone wants to cook him a meal to get in his good graces. I got to know him a little better as we chatted about his background, and he very diplomatically asked us about ours. Turns out Steve-o received his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he enjoyed the “lively, open and diverse (campus) with much choice in terms of outlets for expression.? Second year transfer student Erin Cizeski inquired as to the difference in campus culture between such a big school as U.W., and a little Liberal Arts institution such as Antioch and Steve remarked “Everyone should be open and welcome, Sexuality is a choice, no group should dominate. Straight culture dominates, but a campus should be open. There is less conflict in a big school, everything can be taken in its embrace. At Antioch it is intensified, people feel strongly and want to challenge others, to make them uncomfortable. We need to challenge and question what is an appropriate level of discomfort; none of us have all the answers.? This statement would be contradicted later on in Steve’s formal Q & A forum, as he was often heard making empirical “I? statements in regard to his opinions on drug use and “radical identity politics? I have compiled the following list of Steve’s responses to student’s questions about the recent expulsion spree, and the subject of identity politics:

“I can’t speak to the issue? (*note to future students who plan on attending these forums; he will not speak to this issue, continuously asking the same questions with fancier wording will not fool him.)

On the subject of the well being of the expulsees:

“I have larger responsibilities to the overall campus climate. Drugs are corrosive, Marijuana deadens peoples minds? or how about :

“I am the President. I am responsible for the intellectual experience. Drug use is corrosive in my opinion, that’s the way it is.?

Steve spoke to a room of Antioch students of his vision of an idyllic Antioch student- “ An Antioch student walks a different path, asks tough and difficult questions, lives a meaningful life not a consumerist or nihilistic one. They want to contribute to the betterment of society.? As long as they don’t smoke pot, or make people uncomfortable with wild displays of deviant sexuality and identity politics, which was the sentiment I got from the comment; “Sometimes I feel there are Antioch students out there who should be here, but are intimidated by drugs, or the insistent argumentative stridency (of the student population) sends people off.?

Transfer student Preston Krafft had to say of the event “ I don’t think he communicated effectively what he wanted to about the drug policy, and the core programs. I felt what he had to say was reasonable, he just didn’t articulate it in a way a younger generation would understand. He used his stature as president as a way of garnering the final say on the topics questioned. Saying “this is the way it’s going to be, and I back this up because I am the president? would make perfect sense to someone of the baby boomer generation, but for the student population that’s a major turn off. He should have tried a more humble approach by asking for our cooperation, not demanding it.?

I apologize if this article doesn’t speak much to the actual content of the question and answer period of Monday’s forum, but unfortunately I don’t feel there is much to speak to. There was a lot of emotion in the room, people feeling like they had been wronged and wanting to have their voice heard to which there was a lot of very defensive responses from Mr. Lawry. He made it clear that his responsibility is to the college’s financial future, giving the sense that the 3rd and 4th year students are disposable and being shepherded out, where as our class is a kind of testing ground for policy and curricular change to benefit the next wave of Steve’s utopic versions of nonoffensive, drug free Antiochians.

I do feel like this luncheon was a good start to bridging the gap spoken about during the meeting between the students and the administration. The general feeling on campus is that Mr. Lawry isn’t very receptive to student voices, so I send out this plea to you community: If you have an opinion on the current state of affairs, go to Steve. He made it very clear at the end of the meeting, that we were all welcome. He urges us to stop by his office and make an appointment with Nancy Wilburn. In fact he can be quoted as saying “Everyone is welcome, and I’m always happy to meet with students.? I feel it is out civic duty to participate in the wonder that is shared governance, and if you have a problem or concern call up Nancy Wilburn, let her know Steve sent you, and schedule a meeting. Steve made us an offer, let’s hold him to it.